Sarkozy rules out French presidential run after conviction

PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ruled out running again for office next year, a day after a court found him guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to a year in prison. He appealed the decision.

In an interview Tuesday with French newspaper Le Figaro, Sarkozy denounced Monday’s verdict as “a deep injustice.”

“I cannot accept to be convicted for something I didn’t do,” he said.

The 66-year-old Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted of trying to bribe a magistrate in exchange for information about a legal case in which he was implicated.

The Paris court found that Sarkozy and his two codefendants sealed in 2014 a “pact of corruption,” based on “consistent and serious evidence.”

Sarkozy was sentenced to a year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. The appeal suspends the court’s decision.

Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017, but still plays a major role behind the scenes. Some conservative officials have pushed for his candidacy in the 2022 presidential election.

He suggested in Le Figaro that he hadn’t considered running again for elected office, mentioning family reasons.

“I had said I won’t run in the presidential election, I’m maintaining it,” he was quoted as saying.

Yet he said he intends to play a role in upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

“I will do my duty by saying what I think,” he said.

Sarkozy will face another trial later this month over suspicions regarding his 2012 presidential campaign, which ended in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande.

His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to conceal the alleged spending of 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million) — almost twice the maximum authorized.